New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary


Psa 98:1

A Psalm

Sing to Yahweh a new song, for He has done marvellous things! His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for Him-
Even in the Old Testament, the idea of living in a spirit of newness of life is to be found. David six times invites us to sing with him “a new song” (Ps. 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1 cp. Is. 42:10). Invariably these songs are associated with the experience of God’s redemption (cp. Rev. 5:9). Obviously those ‘new songs’ were intended to be repeatedly sung. Our regular experience of forgiveness and redemption should urge us onwards in the spirit of ‘newness of life’. Like Paul we die daily with the Lord, and the power of His resurrection life likewise daily breaks out in us.

Psa 98:2

Yahweh has made known His salvation, He has openly shown His righteousness in the sight of the nations-
It was God’s prophesied will that the Gospel would go world-wide; but it required the freewill strivings of Paul to enable it, and the strivings with God in prayer by the brethren. With these thoughts in mind, bear in mind the parallels between Psalms 96 and 98.  Sing unto the Lord a new song (96:1) = O sing unto the Lord a new song (98:1); His wonders among all people. For He hath done marvellous [s.w. ‘wonders’] things in the sight of the nations (96:2 RV) = declare His glory among the nations (98:3); righteousness and truth (96:13) = righteousness and truth (98:3); Let the sea roar and the fullness thereof (96:11) = Let the sea roar and the fullness thereof (98:7); for He cometh to judge the earth (96:9) = for He cometh to judge the earth (98:13); The Lord reigns (96:10) = The Lord the king (98:6).

But there are some subtle differences. Ps. 96:2,3 exhorts us: “Show forth His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the heathen”. But Ps. 98:2 puts it another way: “The Lord has made known His salvation. His righteousness has He openly shewed in the sight of the nations”. These latter words are only true in that we make known that salvation, and we declare His glory among the nations. Thus a statement in Ps. 98 that Yahweh has shewed His glory to the nations becomes an imperative for us to go and do that in Ps. 96.

Psa 98:3

He has remembered His grace and His faithfulness toward the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God-
"Salvation" is Yeshua. Clearly the day when all the earth shall perceive the Lord Jesus is in view. In the immediate context of David and later the exiles, the hope was that the extremities of the eretz promised to Abraham, places like Babylon and Assyria where the exiles were, would perceive that God had saved His people.

Psa 98:4

Make a joyful noise to Yahweh, all the earth! Burst out and sing for joy, yes, sing praises!-
The very "ends of the earth" who saw God's salvation of His people are invited to praise Him for it (Ps. 98:3,4)- the invitation to join in praise was effectively an invitation to join in worship, and thereby to become part of God's covenant people. These ends of the eretz were places like Babylon and Assyria, who had previously abused God's people.

Ps. 98:3-5 continues the radical appeal of Ps. 96:7 to the Gentile world, but it urges them to come and worship (which involved coming to the sanctuary in Israel) exactly because God has been so gracious to sinful Israel. Israel's extreme sin and God's radical grace and patience with them for not being good witnesses to the Gentiles... was to serve as encouragement for the Gentiles to come to Israel's God and praise Him, confident that their sins too could be forgiven.

Psa 98:5

Sing praises to Yahweh with the harp, with the harp and the voice of melody-
David's invitation of others to praise God with the harp was effectively asking them to share his personal praise of God- for he was known for his personal praising of the Lord with the harp.

Psa 98:6

With trumpets and sound of the ram’s horn make a joyful noise before the King, Yahweh-
These were the trumpets which summoned Israel to keep the feasts in Zion. The idea is that the Gentiles would joyfully respond to the call to enter covenant relationship with Yahweh, and therefore keep His feasts. But the exiles didn't repent, and Ezekiel records their involvement with idol worship. As happened at Hezekiah's time, instead of Jerusalem becoming the international centre of Yahweh worship, the people instead returned to the idols of the surrounding nations.

Psa 98:7

Let the sea roar with its fullness; the world, and those who live therein-
The idea is that all of the planet, the sea representing the peoples, would rejoice at the prospect of the coming of Israel's Lord in judgment (:9). This is not therefore speaking of the Kingdom; but rather of David's desire that before the Lord's coming, the Gentile peoples would come to such relationship with Him that they rejoiced at the prospect of His coming in judgment, knowing by faith that they would not be condemned.

Psa 98:8

Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing for joy together-
The rivers and mountains are personified people because they are intended to be understood as representative of peoples and nations. The "rivers" have been used as representative of the Gentile armies which overran God's people; but they were envisaged as repenting and clapping with joy at the prospect of Yahweh's appearance in judgment; for they would repent.

Psa 98:9

Let them sing before Yahweh, for He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity- This is quoted in Acts 17:31 concerning the final day of judgment at the Lord's return. David feels God's judgment is ongoing now (Ps. 9:4), but that is preparation for the future day of judgment. Appreciating this means that we live our lives before the judgment presence of God. The reason for joy was that judgment day is coming- judgment was a joyful prospect, not a dread uncertainty, because God's judgments are ahead of time revealed in His word.